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Air Force Chooses Kansas Over Spokane’s Fairchild for New Tanker

Older KC-135 aircraft to be replaced by the new KC-46A
(Photo by Tim Boyle/Getty Images)

Spokane will not be the main airbase for the new Air Force KC-46A tanker when it begins to replace the older KC-135’s, seen in picture.

The Air Force announced today it has chosen McConnel Air Force Base in Kansas as the main operating base for the new Boeing tanker that will be used for in-flight refueling operations.

Officials reached the decision after studying infrasturcture, manpower, existing missions, housing and looking at how well each possible base would serve the needs of training and operational missions for crews.

Updated news reports indicate Fairchild could be chosen as an alternate main operating base for the new Boeing airplane.

Gov. Jay Inslee released the following statement about the decision:

This is an extremely unfortunate decision by the Air Force. Fairchild Air Force Base has a strong tradition as an integral part of our national defense and is ideally located, particularly as U.S. strategy calls for directing greater attention to the Pacific theater. The Air Force’s decision today does not follow that important national policy. Fairchild also had a clear advantage through its solid relationship with the Washington Air National Guard 141st Air Refueling Wing.  I want to thank Spokane County, Washington’s Congressional delegation, state lawmakers, our Military Department, Fairchild first, the Washington Military Alliance and the entire Fairchild community for their hard work in trying to get these Washington-built planes based in Washington. Together we will continue to fight for Washington’s defense communities and the strategic role our state’s bases play in the nation’s defense.”


Some experts cannot help but notice Boeing has a major manufacturing plant in Wichita, Kansas; it’s been there since WWII. They also can’t help but notice over the last few years, Boeing has moved its corporate headquarters from Everett to Chicago, built a new plant in South Carolina, and now the Air Force chooses a Kansas air base over one in Washington state.

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